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Some of the latest main battle tanks (MBTs) and other armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) from the European and US defence industries will be on display at the DEFEA 2023 international defence exhibition in Athens from 9-11 May.  

Tanks and other AFVs have returned to the centre of attention due to their extensive use on the battlefields of Ukraine, but also following the announcement of the Hellenic Army’s interest in upgrading part of its armoured forces. Just a few months ago a plan to modernise Greece’s Leopard 2A4 MBTs came before the Greek government, following proposals by the country’s Supreme Military Council and the Hellenic Army General Staff. DEFEA visitors will have the opportunity to learn about developments and see up close the formidable Leopard 2A4 from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). Armour specialists from KMW will also be on hand to detail the full range of upgrades that the company has developed for the Leopard 2, which will be presented at DEFEA with the active and passive armour developed by Greek company EODH. 

There is also strong Greek interest in BAE Systems’ AAV7A1 amphibious armoured vehicles, which will also be present at DEFEA 2023. Athens is interested in acquiring 76 such vehicles to cover the needs of Greece’s 32nd Marine Brigade and to partially replace the brigade’s outdated landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVPs). The Greek request has received the green light from the US State Department and a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) is anticipated in order to initiate negotiations with the US government. 

There is also particular interest in the BAE Systems CV90 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which will be presented at DEFEA in the MkIV configuration incorporating all the innovative technologies developed by the company. This 32-tonne IFV, built initially for the Swedish armed forces, is expected to draw attention as one of the most complete systems of its kind. The category of IFVs is highly regarded and, of course, this means that the KF41 Lynx from Rheinmetall Landsysteme cannot be absent from DEFEA. The Lynx is already under consideration by Athens, with Germany offering the establishment of a production line in Greece if the Lynx is procured. 

The Philoctetes, Nexter’s Greek-specified Véhicule Blindé de Combat dInfanterie (VBCI) IFV, will also be in Athens. Equipped with a T40 turret armed with a 40 mm gun, an Akeron-MP anti-tank missile launcher from MBDA, as well as a remote-controlled weapon station with a 12.7 mm machine gun, the VBCI has been presented to the Hellenic Army General Staff, while Nexter and the Hellenic Defence Systems have signed a strategic co-operation agreement for the development of an IFV specifically adapted to the requirements of the Hellenic Army. 

The Hellenic Army is looking to modernise its fleet of Leopard 2A4 MBTs. (Photo: DEFEA)

The Hoplite wheeled armored vehicle will be presented at DEFEA in an anti-tank version armed with a 20 mm gun and guided missile launchers. The manufacturer of the Hoplite, EODH, will also present a prototype turret for the Leonidas tracked armoured personnel carriers operated by the Hellenic Army and the Cypriot National Guard. 

Among the wheeled vehicles at the show, the German Enok (Light Armored Patrol Vehicle) by ACS Armored Car Systems stands out, as well as the larger Enok 9.5 version and the airdroppable Enok AB. The Enok is an articulated tactical vehicle serving in the German armed forces and is based on the Mercedes G-Class chassis. One of the most interesting configurations of the vehicle is the Enok AB Tankhunter, which is equipped with SPIKE anti-tank missiles.  

Other interesting participants at the show include the Polaris special operations vehicle by Greek company North Aegean Slops, as well as the special-purpose vehicles being presented by AADS, Iveco, and EDGE entity Nimr, which will be displaying its upgraded Long Range Special Operations Vehicle (LRSOV). 

Attention will also be drawn to the Zuzana 2 wheeled 155 mm self-propelled howitzer from Slovakian Konstrukta Defense, the Oerlikon GDF009 twin 35 mm anti-aircraft gun, and WB Electronics’ modernisation package for the Soviet-designed ZU-23-2 twin 23 mm anti-aircraft gun.